"Program Spotlight" is a segment of Ferris in Focus, as put out by the Advanced Producing and Directing class at Ferris. It is the longest segment of every in a typical episode, often spanning up to six minutes in length all by itself. The purpose of this segment is to document a different bachelor's degree or minor every week, and build interest in it for future students.

Majors / Minors featured

Theater Minor

First interviewed was Jess Boughner, the general manager for the Big Rapids store of Buffalo Wild Wings. Waitress Lindsey Lynch also gives her thoughts, stating that the store's environment is a fun place. Jess pitches in that family specials are one of many things done to enhance interest in their store. Lindsey mentions the restaurant's burgers, salads, wraps, and other food that serves as an alternative to just wings.

Jess adds that there are 52 TV sets in Buffalo Wild Wings, so nearly everybody in the building gets to watch at least something. Bartender Dave Simon claims that the busiest time for Buffalo Wild Wings is at late evenings, where the bar is always busy. Finally, Jess claims that the restaurant "offers something different" to Big Rapids, allowing for them to stimulate interest that, in-turn, stimulates the area's economy.

Mechanical Engineering Technology

Mechanical Engineering Technology gets the spotlight this week. The interim director, Tom Hollen, opens by saying that a "wide range of abilities" are opened up to students who choose that major. Professor Chuck Drake adds that their program offers students "the applied side" of engineering. Student Nate AndersMooi adds further that the hands-on approach taken in that field heavily aids in learning.

He even elaborates that if someone wants to work on a dirt bike, they can build it there and toy with it. MET students, in addition to experimental cars, are also famous on campus for their Rube Goldberg contests. Among their boasts was getting to participate in Tokyo in an international Rube Goldberg competition.

MET students are in demand in everything from the Fortune 500 to the Big Three Automakers. Tom even makes a challenge, saying that he'd gladly pit his students against those at Purdue, Toledo, Texas, Michigan State, and more. The end graphic states that MET's phone extension is 2890.

Architectural Technology

Jenny Coburn, an Architectural Technology Major at Ferris, was first in line. She rejoiced that nearly all the teachers had been architects before at some point in time. Also, classes consist almost entirely of lab time and involve very little lecture.

One professor that came on, Paul, informed viewers that Ferris’ school of architecture places heavy emphasis on pragmatic architecture, rather than the design theory that gets heavy emphasis at a lot of other schools. Assistant Professor Dane Johnson added that students are encouraged to work with CAD software quite frequently so as to quickly produce meaningful designs that can lead to usable blueprints.

Nate Cameron, a student in the program, claimed that his favorite project was getting to convert an old building in the area into a bank. Kimberly Rademacher’s favorite project was getting to take a 2D design and convert it into a meaningful 3D render.

Students gain lots of experience in building models of just about everything. Having a relatively small faculty and class size helps students to get individualized attention. Another thing Kimberly liked about the program was that it not only focused on the designs of architecture—but also on the nature of materials used. Some students in the program have even won awards at competitions for their work.

One other thing students enjoy is studying how a lot of modern skyscrapers are designed—what makes the seemingly impossible both possible and practical.

Architecture at Ferris had for the longest time been only a 2-year program; but it was quickly transitioning into a 4-year program. In the mean time, students were allowed to get their two years in before transferring to another school. One of the students claimed she was prepared to transfer to the Kendall College of Design in Grand Rapids—it would allow her to take what she’d learned about architecture in Big Rapids and apply it to an interior design major at Kendall.

Industrial Chemistry

Industrial Chemical Technology featured this time around, and a lot of industries need someone who is lab-savvy. Instructor Bill Killian pointed out that chemistry is like baseball: If you’re not actually doing it, you’re not a pro. All the theories on Earth are nothing if you do not actually create anything.

Physical Sciences Department Head David Frank went as far as to say that ICT is more hands-on than pretty much anything else in Physical Sciences.

Student Megan McConnel claimed to enjoy the work environment and fellow classmates. Another student enjoyed testing for actual aspirin contents in commercial aspirin tablets.

Nicotine contents in different brands of cigarettes are also a common study theme. Chemists in the program not only analyze chemicals in preexisting products, but also get to synthesize some of their own creations. These include polyesters and dyes. Phizer, Dow, Amway, SC Johnson, and other companies have a lot of need for chemistry grads, which is where a lot of students end up being hired out to.

The program does its best to match students with which chemical company and its needs most fit that students’ actual desires.

New Media Printing and Publishing

This piece opened with Printing Media Management Professor Pat Klarecki, stating that New Media Printing was “the next generation of printing and publishing technology.”

He claimed that the New Media major at Ferris got its beginning in the year 2000, when the school predicted long in advance of other schools that print media majors could have significant potential.

John Conati, another professor, furthered the argument by defining New Media Printing:

  1. Digital media
  2. Variable print data
  3. E-commerce (including digital store fronts)
  4. Web publishing

Nanette Binagatan, a student, claimed she enjoyed the entire process of taking a project from start-to-finish, and then being proud to see something her hands had made. Nanette claimed also that she really enjoys Press Class, because she gets to watch the presses work their magic.

One major difference between new and old media printing is that new media expedites the processes a bit more; making it more attuned to a society bent on instant gratification.

Another student, Brandon Martinez, made a point that he enjoys all the customized attention that professors were willing to dote on him. Classes range from 8 students to no more than 20, allowing for lots of individualized attention and even reminding Brandon of his high school.

Pat announced that regular focus of the major was to ensure that an image looks exactly the same no matter what format it’s published in. Brandon’s proudest project was his work on the Ferris website, particularly for the New Media Printing major’s pages.

John claimed that he was a big player in developing the major for Ferris. He went on a sabbatical once and came back with a ton of new ideas to make the program better. was started by students in New Media, and overseeing that was the proudest moment for Pat.

The town of Boljon in the Philippines just so happens to be Nanette’s hometown, and she was proud of making a piece for her hometown that was about to become the town’s official brochure.

Pat recommended New Media for anyone who likes working on a PC. Brandon recommended it for anyone who likes working on anything IT related. He went on that if it weren’t for his Graphic Communications class, he’d never have thought that New Media was the perfect field for him to go into. He now has both a technology degree and a printing degree.

Companies such as Independent Printing and Quad Graphics were of particular interest to Nanette.

Pat stated that students in the New Media major often went on to become color management specialists. But they also became IT specialists and print specialists also.

Open lab hours help students get that much further along.

University College

The University College was set up as a gateway for undeclared students. Developmental Programs Associate Professor Dr. Helen Woodman even said so. Classes like Career Exploration 102 help students with exploring different career paths.

A “strong interest inventory” list helps students who are undecided to categorize their ambitions appropriately. One student talked about taking the Myers-Briggs test. Sites like Career Builder were heavily emphasized.

Helen concluded that “empathy” with students was the University College’s biggest strength.


It all begins with biology, then branches out from there. This piece covered the very lengthy topic of how the Biology Major turns into majors for other related sciences. A lot of students in the program end up in pre-veterinary science.

Dr. Friar commented: “What you hear, you’ll forget. What you see; you’ll remember. What you do, you’ll grow to understand.” And that summarizes how hands-on biology-related majors at Ferris really are.

Friar doubled up by stating the obvious: “Seeing red cells here and blue cells there makes it a lot more meaningful than hearing someone say there’s a red one and a blue one.”

One professor actually stated that a lot of the staff in the biology program were at one point doctors. In fact, he even claimed the school keeps a full-time pooch doctor handy to teach students how to keep their mutts alive.

Plastics Engineering

First to appear on the scene for this piece was none other than Ed Muccio, a professor in the Plastics Engineering Technology major. His first point of celebration was that Ferris was—at the time—one of only six or so schools in the entire country that even had a plastics engineering field of study. Robert Speirs, another professor, mentioned that his specialty was on teaching students about the conversion processes for materials; how they start off with a raw petroleum and manipulate it into one or another type of plastic to be used to make other things later.

The next teacher to comment was Larry Schult. He remarked on how his program came with a practicum for employment attached to aid students further in finding jobs. Matt Sweeney, a student in the field, referred to it as “a really good program.” He liked messing with chemicals and enzymes. Adam Walker, another student, enjoyed the “hands-on work” that he got to try out. He also celebrated the “unlimited” applications for plastic molding and manipulation. Rob went so far as to point out that students leaving Ferris in the plastics engineering major had far more lab work under their belts going into the workforce than pretty much anybody else in the country, with some students racking up as many as 450 hours of experience before graduation. (That averages to just under 3 hours a week.)

Adam rejoiced over the fact that he got to play around in the lab on day one of classes, rather than merely studying theory for a whole semester without once touching a machine.

Students in the program are encouraged to become a part of the professional society involved, and to link up with mentors from various companies that manufacture plastics for different varying reasons. In one class, students are actually required to work as if on a job; and give status reports for their products. One student reported his internship working for a company that made chainsaws. Another had to make a storage area for plastic molds for some company. Students who do well can expect to lands jobs with starting salaries of around $52,000 a year.

According to Larry, plastics are a stable job field. There are precious few industries that don’t require some sort of plastic product.

Survey Engineering

Survey Engineering is a field with lots of practical application, from construction and civil engineering to National Security! The heads of Survey Engineering shared why this field of study wasn't going out of style any time soon. According to Devin Roe, a student in SET, the multiple applications of his field is exactly what makes it fun for him to study it. SET Coordinator Sayed Hashimi shared his insights into applications such as photogrammetry.


Second-Year Optometry Student Brian Dornbos was one of a few who came on to talk about the Michigan College of Optometry, one of the proudest programs on campus. He mentioned that first-year students do a lot of studying and basic science courses. Dr. James Nash, an assistant professor, concurred. Nash explained that the courses are geared specifically so that students understand how their research on genetics and other topics pertain to the human eye; so that they don’t feel they’re being force-fed anything irrelevant.

Alana Herron, a 1st-year student, came on to explain what a day in the life of a 1st-year student is typically like. They get to class by 9, and don’t get a significant break until lunchtime. As she explained herself, b-roll footage showed a demo of two students testing equipment on each other. The lighting was made deliberately more dramatic than it necessarily normally would have been, and camera angles for shots were deliberately chosen to produce a primetime drama-like atmosphere. More b-roll footage showed what a lecture might look like; though the lighting was a tad more realistic.

Brian’s big chin followed up by informing viewers that students are usually taking patients by their second year. Third-year student Carla Gilbertson added in her thoughts. For four days a week, 3rd-years get to take lengthy classes. This is followed by working in a clinic on Fridays. Another 2nd-year student, Tuan Tran, added his insights. MCO students get to be very close friends and allies with each other. The teachers have over 20 years of experience with their teaching, and have been described as “very competent.”

“Expect to work hard,” added Brian. He also mentioned a time that Dr. Nash was standing on a table to make a point, but couldn’t remember what that point was. A few more remarks were made about how the program is “totally worth it,” and that “some students don’t know until their junior year that optometry is what they were really meant to do.”

A rotating display of sunglasses completed the segment, as an overlay gave the College of Optometry’s contact information.

  FerrisGoldFlame Ferris in Focus  

  Spring 2010 episodes  

  1. "Sleepy Theatrical Wings"
  2. "Can't Stress Mechanics Enough"
  3. "Diet Wolf and the Architects"
  4. "Pretty Dispatch, Let Me Light Your Chemicals"
  5. "Cancer Prancer, Liquor Prints Quicker"
  6. "Undeclared: The Last Werewolf Bender"
  7. "Drank the Pantry Way Too Zune"
  8. "Fox in a Plastic Decade"
  9. "Take Back the Fudge-Men"
  10. "Cross Your Eyes and Dot Your Liars"

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